Skip to content

Falcons’ “gender-based” questions may have been “widespread”

atlanta-falcons-helmet-getty-ftr_qkpjz0cttkno12hewlvubbkh7 Getty Images

The Falcons apologized on Friday for asking Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple whether he “likes men.” The Falcons may need to be issuing more apologies.

D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Falcons’ behavior was not isolated to Apple.

“A few players told me the Falcons were asking gender questions,” an unnamed source told Ledbetter under a headline indicating that the practice may have been widespread. “After [Michael] Sam and the Jonathan Martin situation, teams want to be careful.”

The explanation is confusing. It almost sounds like an effort to justify what happened. If so, someone may now need to try to justify the effort at justification.

What are teams being “careful” about in the wake of Michael Sam and Jonathan Martin? Avoiding the possibility of accidentally drafting a homosexual? Or simply knowing whether they are? (If that’s the case, leave it to football coaches to think that directly asking “do you like men?” will crack the case.)

And how does Jonathan Martin even factor into this one? Is it a concession that, because he was not regarded as being “tough” by some teammates, he is widely regarded within the football community as being gay?

The NFL, which issued a statement on Friday describing the question to Apple as “disappointing” and “clearly inappropriate,” had nothing to add when asked by Ledbetter for a response to the possibility that Apple wasn’t the only one who was asked “disappointing” and “clearly inappropriate” questions. Whatever the league does, it needs to be more effective than anything the league has done in the past, because Ledbetter’s report speaks to a mindset that no memo issued or training provided by the league is going to easily eradicate from the NFL.

Permalink 60 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Atlanta Falcons, Rumor Mill, Top Stories
60 Responses to “Falcons’ “gender-based” questions may have been “widespread””
  1. SparkyGump says: Mar 5, 2016 3:22 PM

    We spend way too much time keeping track of what other people do with their genitals. A better question would be “how much and what denominations of money do you need to make it rain?”

  2. kickinpuppies says: Mar 5, 2016 3:24 PM

    PFT: Your #1 Source for Sports and Sexuality News.

  3. mrlaloosh says: Mar 5, 2016 3:26 PM

    He should’ve just asked him if he likes The Village People…

  4. ebdug says: Mar 5, 2016 3:32 PM

    Roger probably directed the coaches to ask the question so he could find another Michael Sam to rally behind.

  5. ttommytom says: Mar 5, 2016 3:33 PM

    Arthur Blank is mortified as we speak. These guys live and die with their legacies.

    You could see the Mike Vick ‘situation’ as a legacy thing with Blank.

    Some donate to museums and hospitals. Blank has his team and this is another huge strike against his legacy.

    Blank will be talking soon and someone will ‘resign’ and go Sal Alosi land.

  6. sportnik2 says: Mar 5, 2016 3:35 PM

    In a league utterly devoid of leadership, teams like the Falcons continue to be an embarrassment, both on and off the field.

    The NFL’s fearless leader, Goodell, won’t have time to even notice, as he’s too busy spending $20M to prove that the laws of physics don’t apply to NFL footballs, simply because he said so, & according to the NFL collective bargaining agreement, if he said so, it must be true.

  7. insightfulcomments says: Mar 5, 2016 3:35 PM

    How stupid can you get? Quinn seems like a meathead but I can’t believe Dmitroff would let it go on. Makes me think it was Quinn himself.

  8. joedirte says: Mar 5, 2016 3:37 PM

    If we lose another pick for this then I’m going to be furious. This is so stupid why would you ask that question in any kind of professional setting. But I think they shouldn’t losebanpick but fine them a million dollars and that fine will be more than most assistant coaches make and that may force blank to fire the idiot in question.

  9. thefatlazygamer says: Mar 5, 2016 3:39 PM

    Great, now Micheal Sam and Martin are going to sue the league.

  10. reprob8 says: Mar 5, 2016 3:42 PM

    Let’s see if /how Goodell serves up discipline for this, which is a violation of federal law.

    They do have their “non profit” status to protect

  11. 12brichandfamous says: Mar 5, 2016 3:44 PM

    I hope all the interviewees told the team, “that’s none of your business, is your sexuality a common topic of discussion at work?”

  12. thegreatgabbert says: Mar 5, 2016 3:48 PM

    Maybe Dmitroff thinks some of the guys look a bit weird… He would know.

  13. willjasper says: Mar 5, 2016 3:50 PM

    Classy!

  14. pastanow says: Mar 5, 2016 3:52 PM

    This had to come as a directive from the top meaning the head coach. It wasn’t one coach going rogue but a standard set by someone high up.
    Take away their first round draft pick this year as a punishment and you’ll never see this disgraceful problem again in the NFL.

  15. tmsclade says: Mar 5, 2016 3:54 PM

    reprob8 says:
    Mar 5, 2016 3:42 PM

    Let’s see if /how Goodell serves up discipline for this, which is a violation of federal law.

    They do have their “non profit” status to protect

    ________________________________

    The league office has already given up their non profit status.

  16. pftthoughtpolicemostwanted says: Mar 5, 2016 3:56 PM

    Valid questioning. I’d want to know if I was inviting someone into my locker room with sexual preferences that a majority of the team likely isn’t comfortable with.

    If you don’t like it, find another line of work.

  17. mackcarrington says: Mar 5, 2016 4:01 PM

    The takeaway from this is that big, bad, macho football players are terrified and scared to death of having “naked, gay men prancing” around in their locker rooms.

  18. ebdug says: Mar 5, 2016 4:03 PM

    Two things about Apple: 1) he won’t be anywhere near the Falcons on draft day and b) he never did answer the question, so he may not be anywhere near anybody’s board on draft day.

  19. tonebones says: Mar 5, 2016 4:07 PM

    Believe it or not, this kind of thing actually relaxes the players. They probably come to Indy all nervous and anxious, and then they find out that a lot of the coaches and scouts are just complete idiots. In fact, the smart ones probably try to sound stupid to those asking such questions in hopes of getting drafted by a team that has more intelligent people running it. I don’t think Bill Walsh or Bill Belichick ever asked such stupid questions, but what do they know? I guarantee you the losing teams are the ones asking them. How many super bowls has Atlanta won? The smart teams are interested in finding good players, and their draft boards are completed long before the combine ever gets started. The guys asking these questions are just nit wits trying to pretend they know what they’re doing.

  20. denrec says: Mar 5, 2016 4:08 PM

    What was apparent to me is that Apple didn’t want to be drafted by the Falcons. He should drop to the end of the second round and the Panthers want to thank the Falcons for the CB.

  21. sgcrys says: Mar 5, 2016 4:09 PM

    pftthoughtpolicemostwanted says:
    Mar 5, 2016 3:56 PM
    Valid questioning. I’d want to know if I was inviting someone into my locker room with sexual preferences that a majority of the team likely isn’t comfortable with.

    If you don’t like it, find another line of work.

    ________________________________

    You, and the NFL, may want to consider to what degree these interviews are real employment based interviews. There are strong federal protections about what can and cannot be asked in an interview in order to prevent discrimination.

    Asking about sexual orientation is just as illegal as asking about religion, age, etc.

  22. evrybdyhas1 says: Mar 5, 2016 4:12 PM

    I wonder if the Atlanta Falcons know who Jerry Smith is and who they will target with their top draft choice in the second round of the 2016 NFL draft?

  23. Ferdinand says: Mar 5, 2016 4:13 PM

    Prospective players – here’s how you answer that question.

    “Why? Are you asking me out? ‘Cause, just so you know, I don’t date where I work. Too much drama there and I’m not about that. If you are asking me if I have a problem with a gay teammate? I don’t have a problem with anyone who works hard and plays hard on gameday. His outside of work life is none of my business.”

  24. milehighmagic7 says: Mar 5, 2016 4:14 PM

    Annnd finally the obligatory bigot (thoughtpolice) shows their face…..oh wait a minute, bigotry is a dish best served anonymously

  25. antneejay2 says: Mar 5, 2016 4:20 PM

    Maybe the coach was just lonely.

  26. hifive123 says: Mar 5, 2016 4:23 PM

    If it’s not a big deal, what’s wrong with asking?

  27. Seprix says: Mar 5, 2016 4:32 PM

    I’m a conservative. This is unacceptable.

  28. patswhatsup says: Mar 5, 2016 4:37 PM

    SparkyGump says:
    Mar 5, 2016 3:22 PM
    We spend way too much time keeping track of what other people do with their genitals. A better question would be “how much and what denominations of money do you need to make it rain?”

    _________________________________

    Lmao, you got me cracking up.

    “How would you like your rain allocated sir?”

    hahaha!

  29. mpry says: Mar 5, 2016 4:41 PM

    Well theres 2 genders, male and female. And thats it.

    So these questions really weren’t “gender based”. They were sexual preference based.

    A team who is going to invest a lot of time ans money should have not only every right to thoroughly know every possible thing about whoever they bring in, but they should also not have to apologize for doing so.

  30. ausernamethatisavailable says: Mar 5, 2016 4:47 PM

    Bottom line it’s a distraction thus a relevant question. Not saying it’s ok to ask it but no doubt every team would want to know. Locker rooms are becoming more progressive I am sure but I assume every team has about 10-15 players in it that would be really uncomfortable having an openly gay player in the locker room. So insult the coach for being an idiot and thinking he could ask the question, but don’t try to dismiss the question like it has no relevance bc an open minded person can see the potential off the field distraction. It is clearly relevant.

  31. mongo3401 says: Mar 5, 2016 4:52 PM

    Maybe just maybe the team wanted to see if the player could keep his mouth shut instead of spewing crap to the world ? Kid will fall to the last round if drafted at all. In short. No team wants an moaning momma in the locker room. Neither do the teams players. And moaning momma has nothing to do with being gay or not gay

  32. ravenrich says: Mar 5, 2016 4:58 PM

    What’s wrong with asking, is that it IS a big deal to be asking that. What ignoramous forsn’t know that? Who doesn’t know that such questions asked in a job interview are unquestionably illegal and can (often do) result in getting successfully sued?

  33. insi10 says: Mar 5, 2016 5:00 PM

    “Prospective players – here’s how you answer that question.

    “‘Why? Are you asking me out? ‘Cause, just so you know, I don’t date where I work. Too much drama there and I’m not about that. If you are asking me if I have a problem with a gay teammate? I don’t have a problem with anyone who works hard and plays hard on gameday. His outside of work life is none of my business.’”

    Exactly. One has to wonder whether such questions arise from the suppressed urges of the questioner.

  34. dbranch65 says: Mar 5, 2016 5:00 PM

    People r way to sensitive. I’m afraid where we be in 20 years. The answer is no and move on. Apple making a stink is off my draft board. What next not happy with the towels. Suck it up buttercup. We are promoting the weak.

  35. falcon8275 says: Mar 5, 2016 5:07 PM

    The media blows things so out of proportion. Now PFT is joining in. Let’s talk football. Let the people who run the Falcons and NFL deal with this. Now on to free agency news! Geez! 👍

  36. singletitle says: Mar 5, 2016 5:08 PM

    And the onus of doing anything about the NFL’s illegal interview questions is all on the potential player in question.

    Answering the question at all is breaking the law. If one does not answer the question, not only will one not get drafted, one will also be the topic of discussion with other teams as well.

    If the guy that didn’t get drafted because he refused to answer the question about his sexual orientation files suit with the EEOC, he’ll never sign with any NFL team. It’s the potential player taking the consequences, NOT those who committed the infraction in the first place.

    Anyone who has worked in corporate America knows that asking those interview questions is illegal and would most likely lead to significant disciplinary action/outright firing by HR. The NFL is not exempt from nationally established labor law. And it’s interesting that Big Rog and his minions seem to believe they’re immune.

  37. kylexitron says: Mar 5, 2016 5:19 PM

    “Well theres 2 genders, male and female. And thats it.”

    This is actually scientifically incorrect.

  38. vicnocal says: Mar 5, 2016 5:29 PM

    ====”Anyone who has worked in corporate America knows that asking those interview questions is illegal and would most likely lead to significant disciplinary action/outright firing by HR. The NFL is not exempt from nationally established labor law. And it’s interesting that Big Rog and his minions seem to believe they’re immune.”====

    This is not a corporate office full of cubicles, nerd. It’s a game of violence played by modern-day gladiators. Buzz off.

  39. nenlain says: Mar 5, 2016 5:30 PM

    Sic’um Florio!

  40. thegreatgabbert says: Mar 5, 2016 5:39 PM

    “Widespread”

    Took me awhile, but chalk one up for PFT.

  41. abninf says: Mar 5, 2016 5:57 PM

    SparkyGump says:

    We spend way too much time keeping track of what other people do with their genitals.
    ===================================

    Easy to say when you don’t have to share showers with other men.

  42. fanofpft says: Mar 5, 2016 6:16 PM

    Rod Harrison just noted about this that Atlanta is a hot bed for this activity. So maybe that was the angle. I miss him on the show he kinda tethered Florio.

  43. jontarbox says: Mar 5, 2016 6:28 PM

    So lets see if breaking federal laws is worth more or less than a #1,#4pick a million dollar fine and a 4 game suspension for the person who came up with the question.

  44. realdealsteel says: Mar 5, 2016 6:52 PM

    Please, no one is going to be fined for asking that question.

  45. realfootballfan says: Mar 5, 2016 6:55 PM

    I won’t jump to conclusions on this because I’m hoping it was attached to a larger arc of questions relative to Atlanta, which does have a vibrant gay social scene. So if it was asked along the lines of do you like to go out partying a lot and then that was a branch off question, much like if you were in Dallas or Houston, you’d ask a prospect if they like strip clubs and strippers because there is one on every corner, I get it. This is the only way this remotely makes sense to ask about.

  46. evermoresg says: Mar 5, 2016 7:15 PM

    “Believe it or not, this kind of thing actually relaxes the players.”

    Yeah, it worked just that way when Gunnery Sergeant Hartman asked it.

  47. rcosborne59 says: Mar 5, 2016 7:19 PM

    So folks this is far worse as far as integrity of the league than a few puffs of air. Atlanta should be fined heavily and at least lose the same draft picks as Patriots if for nothing else stupidity. Did they think this wouldn’t get out. Can they be that stupid, apparently.

  48. bullcharger says: Mar 5, 2016 7:27 PM

    dbranch65 says:
    Mar 5, 2016 5:00 PM
    People r way to sensitive. I’m afraid where we be in 20 years. The answer is no and move on. Apple making a stink is off my draft board. What next not happy with the towels. Suck it up buttercup. We are promoting the weak.

    ——–

    How is the answer “no” and move on? It’s clearly the exact same thing as asking if the player is gay, only in an incredibly derogatory way. What if the player is gay? What are they supposed to say? Especially knowing that the kind of person who would ask that question is discriminating. That’s why it is illegal to ask a question like that.

    Ignoring someone’s rights isn’t the same thing as toughening them up.

  49. bullcharger says: Mar 5, 2016 7:41 PM

    vicnocal says:
    Mar 5, 2016 5:29 PM
    ====”Anyone who has worked in corporate America knows that asking those interview questions is illegal and would most likely lead to significant disciplinary action/outright firing by HR. The NFL is not exempt from nationally established labor law. And it’s interesting that Big Rog and his minions seem to believe they’re immune.”====

    This is not a corporate office full of cubicles, nerd. It’s a game of violence played by modern-day gladiators. Buzz off.

    ————

    Not sure if you noticed, but the corporate nerds are the billionaires who own all the teams these guys play for. Look at the Forbes list. The world you live in is run by nerds. The CEO of the richest company in the world is openly gay. Wake up.

  50. realtruthteller100 says: Mar 5, 2016 8:10 PM

    news flash people, no one cares that your gay. congratulations. now stop shoving your sexuality down my throat cause i seriusly dont care!!

  51. bullcharger says: Mar 5, 2016 8:12 PM

    mpry says:
    Mar 5, 2016 4:41 PM
    Well theres 2 genders, male and female. And thats it.

    So these questions really weren’t “gender based”. They were sexual preference based.

    A team who is going to invest a lot of time ans money should have not only every right to thoroughly know every possible thing about whoever they bring in, but they should also not have to apologize for doing so.

    —————

    That’s what you think, but you were outvoted, and a law was passed to prevent exactly what you are advocating.

  52. magikskillz says: Mar 5, 2016 9:57 PM

    You guys did not pay attention in history class. There are no federal laws protecting gay people from discrimination. It is up to individual states. Georgia and the rest of the South does not choose to protect gays. Gay marriage was legalized by Supreme Court just recently and gay sex was legalized in 2003 by the Supreme Court. Unless the NFL has a rule saying you cant ask if someone is gay, the Falcons did nothing wrong legally.

  53. bullcharger says: Mar 5, 2016 10:09 PM

    realdealsteel says:
    Mar 5, 2016 6:52 PM
    Please, no one is going to be fined for asking that question.

    ————

    If the player who was interviewed contacted and employment lawyer they would have a guaranteed settlement. It’s a no brainer.

  54. catquick says: Mar 5, 2016 11:29 PM

    Mercy!!!!!!!!

  55. pftpoetsboyfriend says: Mar 6, 2016 12:51 AM

    Florio, when is your 42 part series coming on what Michael Sam is doing right now and how that makes NFL players feel?

  56. hrmlss says: Mar 6, 2016 1:08 AM

    Why? Who cares? I Own 4 businesses. I have gay family members, and gay employees. As long as they do the job, who gives a care!!!! I’m old, white, straight, catholic, and a Packer fan.

  57. xsm941f says: Mar 6, 2016 2:08 AM

    I’ve seen and heard a lot over the years but to ask someone that in 2016 shows a degree of cluelessness that is positively breathtaking

  58. 1pavikingfan says: Mar 6, 2016 8:45 AM

    They may have been, or they may not have been.

  59. frankmartinsworld says: Mar 6, 2016 11:26 AM

    If I owned a multimillion dollar company, and part of its success was based on continuity, and drafting someone would disrupt that continuity, you damn right, I want to know, it’s my money. When you get your own money, take your own chances.

  60. xilikemenx says: Mar 6, 2016 8:25 PM

    Does any one have Matty Ice’s cell number? He is so Swish!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!